A comparative analysis of decentralisation in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda

A comparative analysis of decentralisation in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda

Comparing decentralisation in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda

This report reviews and assesses the key lessons of the decentralisation reforms in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. It argues that that while there are common problems, challenges, and room for cross-country learning, programmes are nevertheless country-specific.

Some conclusions drawn for the three countries include:


  • the local government (LG) reform process on Kenya has witnessed encouraging results over the last 4-5 years
  • while many structural problems persist, the initiatives taken under the Kenya Local Government Reform Program (KLGRP) have generally moved the process in the right direction
  • the ‘micro-control’ system of centralised checking and interference in local matters still needs to be addressed, and a move should be towards a system of interaction through the establishment of conducive legal procedures, based on general guidelines and incentives to adhere to core national targets such as the development of services, good governance and reduction in the fiduciary risks and monitoring and support.


  • while the decentralisation process has made important achievements, the process is likely to face serious future challenges unless the overall balance between decentralisation of tasks and responsibilities, finance, personnel and capacity is ensured
  • the development of the framework for management of LG staff in a manner that ensures accountability between politicians and local staff, will in particular be crucial for a successful deepening of the process
  • it is important to keep up the momentum from fiscal reforms and to develop the discretionary funding available for LGs, linked to improved performance, accountability and incentives for the LGs to improve on their performance.


  • while most African countries resist the transfer of responsibilities for hiring and firing to LGs, this appears to have worked well in Uganda
  • to fully assess the impact of decentralisation in Uganda, the cost effectiveness of many of the measures, the quality of services under devolved management, and the procedures for decentralised human resource management, are among the factors that need further analysis.
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